Three. And one half.

Jessica was almost exactly 3 1/2 when we brought another baby home from the hospital. It’s odd to be at this mile marker and not be repeating some kind of pattern – but Oliver has his own pattern and we repeat it almost every day.

It’s this:

Wake up before anyone else in the house, be really loud. Ask for SO MUCH FOOD RIGHT NOW, OMG I’M HUNGRY! Now a drink. More drinks. Even more drinks, cold ones. Big ones. Lots of water. Different glass!!!!

Blues Clues? More food. NOT THAT FOOD!! THE OTHER FOOD!

Ok Oliver it’s time to get our coats on and go to school.

BUT I DON’T LIKE COATS! WAAAAAAAAAAA!

Your coat hasn’t changed, it’s the same coat. It’s blue! You love this coat. Let’s put it on.

Weird noises that let me know he’s testing out Dinosaur voices but with a touch of Wolf … and it all means “NO WAY!”

(I put it on for him.)

Crying. Possibly a temper tantrum, most likely being punched in the boob.

Dude, not again. Not today. We’re going to be late. You may not hit me. You don’t hit girls. You’re allowed to use your words when you need something.

Grunts.

And we generally repeat this process over every decision for the rest of the day. It’s a little like walking around a land-mine. Which phrase is going to trip the trigger?

Maybe I didn’t notice this after bringing him home from the hospital with Jessica, I was sleep deprived and hormonal and trying to figure out how to show Jessica I loved her the same, if not more, while still meeting all the needs of this infant who screamed louder, ate more often and wanted to be held constantly.

The adjustment period.

And now … another adjustment period. Gone is my baby boy who wants to cuddle and kiss and tell me he “wuvs me” and in his place we have a defiant preschooler who knows the power of a decision. Of saying no. Of choice.

So many choices. All of the choices every where in the entire world, CHOICES! They are now on his radar, at his beck and call. And he wants the Superman socks today, not Batman thankyouverymuch. But the Superman socks are in the wash and the Batman are clean and the sun is shining but the sky is FALLING and where is his ki-ki? Duckie? Charlotte?

It’s a dance, training a boy (who is a preschooler) to become a man. To want honorable things, to BE honorable and DO honorable all the while battling the indecision with massive options of how to say Yes, No and Not Right Now. To teach him that saying “I need help” has more character than using his fists, even though his fists are super strong and could totally win.

To champion his wins just as much as we champion his falls, his losses and his defeats. Because in the scheme of learning how – they all matter. And today what matters most is that I was here to hear him need me. And I listened.

I’ll take the baby beating, the fist in my chest. The exhausting fight over shoes and getting out the door. I’ll take it, but not always with grace, and I’ll walk with him, not over him, while we arrive, together.

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